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MY DESTRUCTIVE RELATIONSHIP

I gained 30 lbs. How revolting is that? My relationship with food is a miserable one. I am an emotional binger. My pattern is an ‘all or nothing’ approach concerning food. No boundaries. Eating everything that is junk or eating nothing at all until the roof of my mouth is raw and sore.

This food relationship and destruction continues to survive.

I suppose this damaging affiliation involving binge eating and restriction started around the age of eleven years. Puberty. It began with my need to have a flat abdomen. The schoolgirls and I yakked about stomachs, outfits, hair, and beauty early on. Comparison was second nature – even competing with friends. Food restriction and bingeing launched.

Conversations with the few friends I had included the requirement to ‘improve’. This improvement never spoke to sports, specific skills, hobbies, or future goals. Conversations addressed the specific areas of our body that needed to change, comparing our bodies, eating habits, excessive exercising, and the yearning to ‘have that look ‘ to attract boys.

I skipped meals. I purchased and consumed diet pills, I attempted to purge, and I began obsessively examining, comparing, and picking at my skin – mainly my face. I despised ‘me’, and I believed I was unworthy, undesirable, and hideous. My awkwardness and nervousness increased. I analyzed how I spoke and what I said. I would repeat endless conversations in my head for hours afterwards. I felt stupid. I felt ugly.

I avoided youth parties. I avoided friends. I declined invitations to go out to the mall, the movies, or just to hang out. Friendships fell away and I cultivated depression, isolation, and social awkwardness that resulted in extremely limited experiences. Life was not fun and not worth living. I was miserable. I was invisible.

I would sometimes imagine life without me in it. I would envision myself escaping, running, and disappearing. I fantasized about pop singers as if I really knew them. I would visualize meeting or being in a relationship with one of them some day. I was not a typical teen. I was a plain Jane loser. An awkward duck. Invisible.

I believed I was destined to be a spinster or a nun.

I continuously wondered, what the fuck was wrong with me? I hated myself! I felt like I was the big, funny-looking, socially awkward thing, who radiated blotches on the neck and face anytime any male looked or talked to me. What the hell was up with that? I was mortified and terrified of looking ridiculous, acting stupid, and of being laughed at and made fun of. I would not take that risk, so I tried nothing, talked to no one, and avoided most things. If boys were involved – I refused to participate. I founded my isolated and invisible existence which strengthened my depressive and self-destructive behaviors.

How does the media effect body image?  Whitney Polk, a blog writer with PsychCentral states that;

People with an extremely negative body image often become obsessed with parts of their body they dislike. This obsession leads to eating disorders, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorders that greatly affect a person’s health and quality of life. Although both men and women experience body image issues, women are more likely to admit negative self-perception. https://psychcentral.com/blog/how-the-media-affects-body-image/

As a pre-teen, teen, and still sometimes today, the media and society highlights ‘true beauties’ as the ladies on TV, in magazines, in advertising, in music videos, etc. Female beauty commonly has nothing to do with intelligence, strength, honesty and integrity. The overwhelming media and advertising messages are the misconception that beauty is only what is seen and the only thing that matters.  How I evaluated my looks in comparison to others, was how I evaluated myself and concluded my worth. This mindset destroyed my self-esteem and self-image. My internal dialogue repetitively said, I was not cute, not pretty, not desirable, was fat, looked funny, spoke funny, and was not friend valuable. I was ‘Funny Face’ and nobody wanted me or would want me.

In hindsight, I think it may have made a considerable difference in my reasoning if a boy during those developing years would have expressed an interest and told me that I was pretty and that ‘looks’ were not everything. My mental reasoning and low self-esteem needed a peers’ positive influence because I would not trust a good word from anyone else. Yet now that I think about it, if a boy told me I was ‘pretty’ I almost undoubtedly would have believed his only motive was to ‘get in my pants’ and then gag about it later! Damn, I was so fucked in my reasoning and cruel towards myself. I was a truly pessimistic and untrusting person. 

I realized even a few years ago, I still was not satisfied with how I looked. This recognition started when I created a profile on a dating site in my mid-forties. My negative self-image surfaced again as my focus was on weight, length and color of hair, sex appeal, etc.  Many female profiles gave an overwhelming notion that sex attraction and physical beauty was all that was relevant. Don’t get me wrong, caring for your body and maintaining your physical appearance and health by ‘looking good’ is an absolute magnificent thing. Yet, hundreds of filtered, duck-faced, provocatively dressed women who did not highlight anything besides looks radiated sadness to me. We are more than how we look, and unfortunately countless women even now merely highlight their ‘looks’ and not ‘who’ they are past their body. This acknowledgment was a ‘blast from my past’ and it challenged my old mindset, former wounds, female competition, and self-image inferior feelings once again.  

Yet, this time I was stronger.

I knew my worth, yet, my mind tried to dispute it. I knew I was valuable, yet; I once again questioned my value.  

My mindset was weak, I was fearful, and I felt what I had to offer was not enough. I drank too much before and during a date. I mind battled once again. I felt socially awkward, undesirable, inexperienced, and weak.

I finally decided to ‘fake it until I made it’. I decided that if a man didn’t like what he was looking at then – we were not a match- period. Did I start paying more attention to my physical appearance, etc.? Yes of course, but it did not control or isolate me. I finally trusted I was 100% more than ‘how I looked’ to someone else. I may not be a hot physical trophy to some onlookers, but I will be to the one who is worthy of me. I wholeheartedly know I am a trophy partner. I do not need to compete.

I wish I could end this post and state that I finally am eating responsibility and healthy, that I am exercising, and that I am always confident. That would be bullshit. I have not ended this destructive relationship. I continue to struggle and I believe I always will.

I did not write this post looking for a rescuer, guide, or for ‘expert’ help. I know the change starts with me. That I have to break-up with my ice cream, chocolate, and sour candies. Someday, I will ‘kick them to the curb’ and make healthy choices. As with all destructive relationships – if I do not break it off- it will end ‘me’.

Photo by Teejay on Pexels.com

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